Thursday, March 14, 2019

Pentagon Cuts F-35 Funding for Third Year Running As Unit Costs Increase

They're NOT pushing down the cost curve!

Check this out via Defense Aerospace.
 The Pentagon’s budget request for fiscal year 2020 earmarks $11.2 billion for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, $1.51 billion less than in FY2018 and $368.3 million less than in FY2019 (see red highlighting in graphic).

After increasing slightly between FY2018 and FY2019 (+3 aircraft), the number of F-35s the Pentagon plans to order in FY2020 will drop by 15 aircraft. Specifically, the US Air Force plans to cut its purchase by eight aircraft, from 56 to 48, and the US Marine Corps will cut its F-35B order by an even dozen, from 22 to ten aircraft.

Only the US Navy will increase its purchase of F-35C Carrier Variants, by 5 units, from 15 aircraft in FY 2019 to 20 in FY 2020, while also maintaining its order for 24 F-18E/F Super Hornets an in the previous year.

These cuts are all the more unexpected that they are accompanied by new or increased orders for other tactical aircraft.

The US Air Force, for example, is buying eight new F-15EX fighters, a variant of the F-15QA developed for Qatar, at a unit cost of $80 million excluding development costs (or about $125 million each -- in FY2020 only -- to amortize development costs).

In parallel, the US Navy is repeating its FY2019 purchase of 24 Boeing F-18E Super Hornets – 4 times as many as F-35Cs – and together these two services send a message of disengagement from the F-35 program. 
Story here.

The more information I get the more curious this gets.

Talking to the average fanboy, LM troll, etc...All you hear is that they need to ramp up production to push the cost curve down.

They're far from ramping up.

Quite honestly at best the spending is remaining static.  The US Navy continues to puzzle me.  They're quite vocal about the F-35 but they're buying Super Hornets instead.

Additionally they're buying UPGRADED Super Hornets that boast many if not all the features of the F-35 with the exception of stealth (and let's be honest, the F-35 flying today is a far cry from the full stealth model we saw during the X-plane fly off...that plane REALLY DID LOOK like a mini F-22).

I guess we're in a wait and see mode.

The F-35 story is beginning to unravel and it will be fascinating to watch and learn exactly what they'll say to explain it all.

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